Sunday, January 28, 2018

Using Technology in Kindergarten with Boom Cards

Let me guess? Your district wants you to come up with ideas to integrate technology in your classroom.  You received a cart full of Ipads or Chromebooks for your kindergarten class but other than a couple of free web sites you have no idea what to do with them.  As the push to use digital resources in elementary school gets stronger, you are going to need more than a couple free websites to engage your kids and increase their engagement.
I have 2 words for you. Boom Cards. Boom Cards are digital task cards. 
technology in kindergarten

It's a digital take on an old favorite. Boom cards take task cards to a whole new level. They are interactive, fun, and wait for it......self checking! Yes! Just what every teacher has been asking for, self-checking digital resources. But in the words of every goofy TV commercial - that's not all.... Boom collects the data! Seriously, Boom collects the data and provides you with reports on your kindergarten student's rate and accuracy. You can see not only which answer they got incorrect, but you can see how they answered incorrectly.

Data, that four letter word. It can bring you to you knees. But data doesn't have to be complicated. If we use data as it's intended - to make decisions about our next step in teaching.  It can be extremely powerful. Data has received a bad rap lately because we are sometimes asked to take data just for the sake of saying we take data. If we use that information to help kids become better readers then I'm all for it. This is where Boom comes in. Boom takes the data on accuracy. We can easily go back and see which question the kids got incorrect and we can see their mistake. Do they struggle with vowels? Are they missing the ending sounds? This information about our kids' thinking is so helpful when making our plans. 

cvc word,

Honestly the best part about Boom Cards is my kids love them, I mean, they really love them. It must have something to do with the dings it makes when they get their answers correct- I don't know, but my kindergarten kids have been begging for more.

 Guess what? So have their parents. It's easy for parents to use as well. Boom cards even work on your phone! Homework has never been easier.
Oh one more thing.....Do you have kids with special needs?  ESL kids? Well Boom has a sound feature - it's basically like sitting one on one helping your with individual vocabulary or reading instruction. Think of the implications for math? Now you can assess your kids' ability to complete the math in a word problem regardless of their reading ability. Your student's simple click the speaker icon to hear the problem being read to them. Differentiation? Done!

When you purchase a Boom deck from Teachers Pay Teachers you receive a free 3 month membership. After 3 months you have a choice. You can purchase a membership for $9. That membership gives you $5 worth of points to buy extra Boom decks. (So it basically costs you $4 for a year.)  If you don't want to buy a membership, you can continue to use your decks. You just sign in using your "fast pin".  Each of your decks are stored in your library. 

 Want to give it a try?  Grab a free Boom deck here. 

Grab my newest $$$ saving bundles here 


Monday, January 15, 2018

New ideas for teaching handwriting

Teaching handwriting to kindergarten students can be challenging. Beginning writers need to not only identify letters, they need to be able to write letters  automatically and with fluency.   Teaching handwriting is so important in kindergarten because it's a strong predictor of quality writing in the upper grades. 

There is extensive research that states that explicit instruction of handwriting is required for kids to master the mechanics of writing. Reproducing letters quickly and effortlessly is a critical skill our kindergarten students need.  When a student says a letter, learns to make the strokes of the letter, and attaches the sound to that letter, it helps them put all the critical pieces together, motor, phonological, and visual. Before we had technology, teachers had to accomplish this by sitting one on one with a child. But technology has changed all that!

Using flipped lessons help provide the nesessary direct instruction. Writing letters correctly takes substantial repeated practice. Our students need to identify the letter by name and memorize the formation. Sure, some children come to us already able to write their name. But many students arrive with limited handwriting skills. We can use technology in our classroom to help those students become successful.

Flipped lessons provide our young learners with videos that can do the teaching for us. Using flipped lessons for letter practice helps kids because they hear the repeated verbalizations while they are writing. You can literally "talk them through it".  

It's easy for our kindergarteners to use. All we need is a QR reader on our IPads ( free from the app store). Each lesson has a worksheet that has a QR code. The kids simply scan the QR code and they are brought directly to the video. The video provides that critical direct instruction.  The worksheets can be used at school or they can be sent home for homework.

Things to consider when teaching handwriting
Should we teach upper or lowercase first? 
The uppercase letters are often easier because of the straight lines, but kindergarten students see primarily lowercase letters while reading. When using flipped lessons you can teach both at the same time. 

What order do we teach the letters?
 Believe it or not A is one of the hardest letters to master. There are diagonal lines which are so difficult for kids. You've seen that child's first attempt at the letter A. It  really looks like an H with a bridge.  Not to mention the lower case looks nothing like the upper case. So give the students a break and start with easier letters like T, and F.

How easy is it to make a letter? 
Are there straight lines, curved lines both kinds of lines??? When practicing letter formation keep this in mind. I like to teach letters like c, and o, at the same time.

We need our kindergarten students to master handwriting so they can focus on the higher level skills they'll need when reading and writing.

Using flipped lessons has been a life saver for me. and my kids.  Click here to grab a sample of how flipped lessons can transform how you teach handwriting.

You can make your own flipped lesson with an app called Explain Everything. Don't have time? don't worry, I have it for you. If you haven't tried flipped lessons before you can try a sample here

You can grab the full resource here